Lee Anne Bruce Boone
Members of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission vote Friday, Dec. 1, 2023, to offer the post of executive director to applicant No. 8 after meeting in executive session at the State Capitol. (Michael McNutt)

The fourth executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission will be an attorney who has worked in leadership positions for two other state agencies.

Lee Anne Bruce Boone will start her new duties Thursday, Jan. 4, the commission announced today.

She will succeed Ashley Kemp who has served as executive director the past 10 years and who announced her resignation in July. Kemp planned for her last day to be Dec. 31, but she said she would stay on the job until her successor came on board.

Ethics Commission Chairman Jarred Brejcha said Boone’s leadership skills stood out among the 14 applicants for the post. All the applicants were from Oklahoma.

“She is very professional, service-minded, and will provide great leadership for our commission,” he said.

The Ethics Commission makes the rules for ethical conduct by elected state officials, state officers and state employees. It also oversees state campaigns and lobbyist spending.

Bruce Boone currently is the chief accountability officer for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, where she coordinates audits and investigations. She also performs risk management reviews for the agency.

Lee Anne Bruce Boone
Lee Anne Bruce Boone was named executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023. (Provided)

Before that, she served as chief of staff at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, where she guided strategic planning and developed performance indicators to help with greater transparency.

She also has experience in fiscal management, coordinating the administration and allocation of financial resources, skills she will need at the Ethics Commission, which has been historically underfunded by the Legislature since the agency was created by voters in 1990. In addition to the executive director, the Ethics Commission currently has four employees.

The five-member Ethics Commission interviewed six of the 14 applicants on Nov. 17 and asked three of them to return for a second round of interviews on Dec. 1. After interviewing the candidates in executive session, commissioners voted 5-0 to offer the job to applicant No. 8, identified today as Lee Anne Bruce Boone.

Commissioners started the search process in July, but it was delayed after a commissioner informed Attorney General Gentner Drummond that the commission had inappropriate discussions during its July 21 meeting about job qualifications and the search process for a new executive director. Drummond had a letter hand-delivered and emailed to Kemp on Sept. 21 advising her to cancel that day’s scheduled meeting “due to clear violations of the Open Meeting Act.”

Drummond said while commissioners held a recorded vote to accept Kemp’s resignation, they took no action concerning the job posting or setting qualifications. Commissioners also failed to vote to establish a search committee and set its operating parameters in an open meeting.

“It appears that decisions concerning the search committee’s composition and directive were made behind closed doors instead of during an open meeting where the public would benefit from the discussion and understanding of the decision-making process,” he wrote.

Drummond wrote that simply referencing a search committee “upon returning to open session is wholly inadequate.”

Commissioners re-advertised the position in October and set a new deadline of Oct. 31 for applicants to apply.

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission is scheduled to meet next on Friday, Dec. 15.